Property in the legal sense is what comes with or is associated with something, whether as a partial entity or as a fundamental constituent of that entity. When applied to real estate, it is the physical property of a person or entity. This includes the land and all the improvements thereon, the fixtures and fittings on the land and the improvements thereon. The physical property therefore includes the buildings, but also fixtures such as the kitchens and bathrooms, electrical appliances, furniture, fixtures for plumbing, walls, the roof, the foundations, etc.
Real estate law takes into account the fact that a piece of property does not change hands regularly or necessarily even that often. It therefore depends upon the circumstances for a change in ownership to be made. This principle is extended to a particular piece of property by the mere act of making improvements on the property, unless the improvement is for the benefit of another person and then only if that other person is legally able to benefit from the improvement. For example, if a person buys a piece of real estate because he intends to improve his house so that it will sell for more money, then it is necessary for the improvements to be registered as the piece of property being bought. This necessitates a document called an ‘assumption of responsibility’ by both parties to the transaction who are parties to the transaction.
A right to ‘personal property’ is a right that a person has for the use of his own personal property. A ‘right to enjoy property’ is a right that a person has to enjoy the enjoyment of his property or to use it as his own. In this way, property rights refer to the legal rights to enjoy property ownership and use of the property. Property rights do not exist ‘directly’ with the property, rather they exist ‘dependently’ upon a grantor’s trust of the grantor.
Property rights thus include the freedom to enjoy property. These rights arise through three processes, each of which has two stages and is a guarantee for a particular kind of property. First, a person’s right to own property is created through the legal process of ‘acquiring property’. In this process, a person acquires a property through money or any other type of secured investment. Once this is done, the legal property rights to the property become fixed and cannot be changed unless the original creditor agrees to the change.
Next, a person may acquire property by ‘landing’ it. Here, that person owns the property directly – i.e. by having possession of the land. However, the title to the property remains with the person who has possession of it. The property does not immediately become the property of another. This title to property can be inherited, transferred or mortgaged.
A third way of acquiring property is by ‘bearing’ or ‘discovering’ property. This occurs when a person lands a property without having to step on to it. When this happens, the person automatically owns the property. But in this situation, the legal rights to the property are lost. For instance, if a plane lands on a property and later on is discovered not to have legal ownership, the owner will lose all rights over the property.
A fourth way to acquire property is through ‘assumption’. In this case, a person assumes the legal rights to a property when that person becomes the legal owner of the property. To acquire this property, you do not have to step onto the property. Instead, you become the legal owner of the property at the time you assume the property. However, you are still bound by all the usual laws of property acquisition.
All these four processes can be applicable to any kind of property. For instance, if you land a bank-secured property, in all probability you will acquire property rights by discovery. If you land undeveloped land, you can easily acquire property rights by ‘assumption’ or by purchase.